But today I'd like to focus on the life of André Trocmé (French, Reformed) and his wife, Magda, who saved the lives of thousands of Jews in France during the Nazi occupation.
I first learned about Trocmé and the church in Le Chambon of which he was a pastor when I read the book Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of the Village of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There by Philip Hallie.
The book tells an important story: during the darkest and most terrible years of World War II, when the evil viruses of fascism, anti-Semitism, and jingoism came together and Nazi domination of Europe (and beyond) seemed unstoppable, the people of Le Chambon quietly but effectively went about the business of resistance, creating safe haven for Jewish refugees even though they knew it was against the law and extremely dangerous.
"The people of Le Chambon knew about the false identity cards," Hallie writes, "they knew that sheltering foreign refugees and not registering them under their true names was in violation of the laws of France. But they also knew that sometimes - and this was one of those times - obeying the law meant doing evil, doing harm."
As you read the book, you discover why the actions of the villagers was, in fact, "natural."
Their actions were natural because they had faith and they were trained to love.
When I say they "had faith," I don't mean they subscribed to some intellectual doctrine. "For Trocmé," Hallie writes, "the test of whether a faith was real lay not in patience or in passionately rehearsed imagery [of Heaven], but in what that faith could do to make our own lives and the lives of others precious now, in our homes, in our villages."
They were not only trained to love, they were organized to love, in a decentralized yet highly structured network of small groups that met at people's homes when gathering as a large group became too dangerous.
Here's the question I'm asking today:
I'd like to offer the book study in two versions: a traditional book study group that meets in person, and another virtual book study where anyone can participate online. Interested? Contact me, because...
"I, who share Trocmé's and the Chambonnias' beliefs in the preciousness of human life, may never have the moral strength to be much like the Chambonnias or like Trocmé, Hallie writes, "but I know what I want to have the power to be.